DHS releases draft regulations for Real ID

They come a day after Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) reintroduced a bill to repeal the law, citing the burden on states along with privacy concerns.

 The Homeland Security Department today released draft regulations to implement the Real ID Act, almost two years after the law passed, and a day after Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) and others introduced a bill to repeal the act. The Real ID initiative would establish federal standards for driver¹s licenses and identification cards for citizens. States would be required to bear the cost of creating and distributing the licenses, and of maintaining identity databases. The draft guidelines include security features and physical standards for the cards. Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), ranking Republican member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said there was ³little dispute about the need to meet these essential minimum security standards.² However Davis expressed concerns about the costs and the approaching deadline for Real IDcompliance. There is ³not much more than one year before the May 2008 deadline for state-issued documents to meet the more stringent standards,² Davis said. ³Some states will need more time to reconfigure their systems, and many will need help meeting the start-up costs attributable to Real ID implementation.² Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) indicated in early February that she intended to introduce legislation to delay the 2008 deadline to give states more time. Funding, however, remains a top concern. In total, states expect to pay $11 billion to replace current driver¹s licenses with Real ID-compliant identification cards. At the end of January, Maine state legislators rejected the act, questioning the security of the cards and refusing to shoulder the $185 million bill the state would have to pay for the cards. Meanwhile, security experts suggested that funding should come from national sources before the identification program can be implemented. "We just need a major infusion of capital in the form of federal funding so the states can secure their driver license and ID issuance processes," said Janice Kephart, former counsel to the 9/11 Commission. In reintroducting his bill on Feb. 28 to repeal the law, Akaka said, "As I said last year, the REAL ID Act will require every driver's licensing agency to collect and store substantial numbers of records containing licensees' most sensitive personally identifiable information, including one's social security number, proof of residence, and biometric identifiers such as a digital photograph and signature. If the state databases are compromised, they will provide one-stop access to virtually all information necessary to commit identity theft."
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